Cashing in on the rain: water district launches rainwater capture rebates

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is launching a new set of rebates to help Santa Clara County residents continue making conservation a lifestyle. The water district now offers rainwater capture rebates within its Landscape Rebate Program. Rain gardens, rain barrels, and cisterns are all systems used to keep rainwater onsite for reuse within the landscape and are now available for a rebate.

With nearly half of the water supply in Santa Clara County coming from groundwater, rain gardens can serve as a valuable tool in the landscape to help capture stormwater runoff and sink it back into the ground, helping to replenish our underground aquifers. Rain gardens are sunken garden beds that collect stormwater runoff from impermeable surfaces such as rooftops. These gardens are designed to mimic the natural landscape that once existed and have a variety of benefits. They help filter pollutants before reaching our creeks and streams, reduce flooding, recharge our groundwater supply, and provide wildlife habitat.

Under the new rainwater capture rebate, customers can receive a rebate of $1 per square foot of roof area for stormwater diverted into designated rain garden areas (for a maximum of $300). The rebate rate is based on the roof area and not the size of the rain garden. Residential and commercial sites can redirect rainwater collected from rooftops and funneled through downspouts into shallow depressions that have been strategically located and excavated in the existing landscape. These manmade seasonal wetlands can be designed to look like creek beds or mulched and planted to blend into the landscape.


Also offered under the new rainwater capture rebate are additional options for capturing rainwater onsite for reuse, including rain barrels and cisterns. Homeowners and businesses can receive a rebate of up to $35 per rain barrel installed (40-199 gallon capacity). These simple barrels, designed specifically for rainwater capture, can be easily connected to an existing downspout to collect rainwater that will be redistributed into the landscape through a garden hose or watering pail. For sites wishing to install a larger, more robust rainwater capture system, a rebate of $0.50 per gallon is available for installing cisterns (large above- or below-ground water storage tanks) that hold a minimum of 200 gallons of rainwater. The collected water can be used in an automatic irrigation system when equipped with an electric pump system and backflow device.



For all rebates under the Landscape Rebate Program, including the rainwater capture rebates, application submittal and approval is required before purchasing any new equipment or starting any work. Please visit for more information or call our conservation hotline at (408) 630-2554.


  1. How are you defining a cistern? Can it be above ground water storage tanks? Is there a maximum size allowed, or is the limit determined by the maximum rebate amount?


    1. Thanks for your questions! For rebate purposes, a cistern is defined as a hard plastic, fiberglass, or metal container that is designed for the intended purpose of rain capture specifically and has a minimum storage capacity of 200 gallons. The cistern can be installed below or above ground, or on a roof for commercial sites. Multiple cisterns can be installed on the same site and be considered for the rebate. While there is no maximum size limit for the cistern, the total rebate cap (which includes all components of the Landscape Rebate Program) is $2,000, so anything above a 4,000 gallon capacity would not be fully rebated.

      For additional requirement information, please Customers wishing to participate in the rebate program must complete the online application and receive approval before beginning any work on their project or purchasing any equipment.

      You can also call (408) 630-2554 if you’d like more information.



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